Armchair Traveling

Before blogging suddenly appeared in my life and started taking up all my spare time (in a good way!), I used to read a lot. I live in a cold part of the world where indoor hobbies are necessary to pass time. Curling up with a book and a hot cup of tea is a comfortable option.

I’m obviously interested in foreign cultures and that applies to my reading as well. So I’ve decided to share are a few of my favorite books about faraway places…

-Sujata Massey: The Rei Shimura series

Rei Shimura is a Japanese American woman, who becomes an accidental sleuth on her trips to Japan. The books are humorous and there is a lovely, quirky feel to the protagonist’s interpretation of various aspects of the Japanese culture. Cultural differences are highlighted, but it’s done in a loving and positive way. There’s also some romance. If you’re interested in Japan or light detective novels, you should try this series!

-Lisa See: Shanghai Girls

A nostalgic, slightly sad but very beautiful novel of the lives of two Chinese sisters who immigrated to America in the 1930’s. The historical atmosphere is colorful and the storytelling is utterly believable though entirely fictional. It’s like a time machine.

-Helene Wecker: The Golem and the Jinni (in some editions: Djinni)

Set in 1899 New York, this is another beautiful novel with a believable setting. Without giving too much away (and if you want a synopsis, there are plenty available online), it’s a magical tale about a golem and a jinni and their struggles to fit in and survive in a world that isn’t theirs but where they are stuck. Most of all this book is an engaging, vivid read with heartfelt characters. I could see and feel the streets of New York clearly, almost as if I were there.

-Mika Waltari: The Egyptian

A historical novel set in ancient Egypt recounting the life and adventures of a man called Sinuhe. The book was published in 1945 and its author is a national literary icon in Finland. This is one of the few books I’ve read twice: it combines local atmosphere, lively characters and philosophy perfectly. Not to mention history: Waltari’s ancient Egypt is captivating.

-Ryszard Kapuscinski: The Shadow of the Sun

Non-fictional accounts of a renowned Polish reporter’s travels in Africa. Kapuscinski offers fascinating interpretations of war, politics, history, culture, and life. His own life was full of travel, tough spots (e.g. sentenced to death several times in Africa, if I remember correctly), and adventure due to his line of work. He was my ultimate, off-the-beaten-track travel hero. But most of all, I enjoy his writing.

What are your favorite travel books? Any reading tips?

15 responses to “Armchair Traveling

  1. I will need to get The Egyptian since we are probably moving to Cairo this summer. I enjoy travel non-fiction so my latest favourite is In a Rocket Made of Ice by Gail Gutradt. It tells of her adventures working with children and families who have been orphaned through AIDS in Cambodia. I loved it but I love mostly anything about Cambodia too. The Shadow of the Sun sounds great as well. Need to check that out as Africa is always intriguing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the interesting tip! Will add it to my reading list straight away (I’m always hoarding books!)

      I’ve never been to Cambodiaand I love reading about places I haven’t visited, it allows you to imagine them.

      You should definitely read The Egyptian! Get you in that Cairo mood 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for the recommendations! It’s surprising how much time blogging takes isn’t it? I would like to fit a bit more reading in my life. Especially before my second baby arrives and there is no time to sleep (let alone read 😉 Have a great day!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I don’t do a lot of reading so not surprisingly I haven’t read any of the above. I tend to lean towards modern crime and love the Harry Hole series by Norwegian Author Jo Nesbø. Lately I started reading books in english (throught it would help my vocabulary) and read the Game of Thrones series in english…maybe not the best option to start reading english books as the language is quite old fashion:) But I love GoT so I got through it:) My mother in law is a big reader and always up to date on what to read so I randomly read other styles that I get for Christmas etc. I just got through book 1 and 2 of the very strange 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami (from MIL) just to discover there is a 3rd book… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve been meaning to try a book by Murakami which I read about in an inflight magazine 🙂 So you liked his books? (Though they were weird? Sometimes weird is good!) I’ve also read a couple of Harry Hole books and generally read a lot of crime/mystery,too. My favorites in that genre are Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch books (set in LA, which I’ve never been to). I’m queueing for the newest one from the library actually 🙂 Connelly’s Bosch is an interesting character, in some ways quite similar to Nesbø’s Harry Hole, though I find Harry Hole to be a bit darker even. There are lots of good Scandinavian crime writers out there… 🙂 Thanks for commenting, I always love to hear about what other people are reading! I have a looong to-read list! But there’s not always enough time…


      • Funny that both detectives are called Harry. I’ll have to check out Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch series. Is there a natural starting point for the series or can you just go with any of the books?

        I’d have to say Murakami was interesting but special. I will read the third book in the 1Q84 series because I need to know how the strange world ends, but probably not buy any others. I understand he is very popular and has won several prices so it is probably worth a try! I know several people that think his books are great, so it is probably just me:) Let me know what you think if you decide to read one of his books! I’m interested to know:)

        Liked by 1 person

        • True – I guess Harry is a good name for a detective! (There’s also Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry..!)… I read the Bosch books in a random order but there is a chronological story so it might be best to start from the beginning. There are about 20 books in that series! The first one I read was #2 in the series, The Black Ice. It was great and got me hooked on the series. Hope you get a chance to try them some time! 🙂

          Which Harry Hole book is your favorite?

          I’ve read a couple of “artistic” Japan-inspired books which I loved. E.g. Amelie Nothomb’s Fear and Trembling, which is great.

          Sometimes eccentric books can be slow to read, but worthwhile…

          Liked by 1 person

  4. I had read ‘The Hungry Tide’ by Amitav Ghosh and found it quite interesting. It is about the Sunderbans- between the sea and the plains of Bengal. They are these beautiful lands on the eastern coast of India. You might like it too. Do read it and let me know your comments about it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: The Dreamer | The Snow Melts Somewhere·

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